Jane Hutt responds to UK Government Budget
“This Budget is the third in ten months. Plans announced in November have been reviewed already. This chaotic stop-start approach is not helpful to us in terms of our own Budget planning or for businesses who need consistency not constant change. We have barely agreed our plans for 16-17 and the underlying figures have changed again. This contrasts sharply with the stability and certainty that the Welsh Government seeks to provide in our budget process.
“The small addition to our Budget, does not reverse six years of austerity. “Yet again it is the most vulnerable in our society that will be on the receiving end of these further spending cuts and welfare changes. As we’ve seen so often from the Chancellor, there has been no hesitation to apply yet more needless austerity despite the consequences.
“As a Government, we have always been clear that austerity is a choice and we are providing an alternative clear way forward despite austerity. We have a track record of delivering in these difficult financial times and will continue to do all we can to mitigate the effects of these further cuts to public spending in Wales.
“We have never shied away from investing in our infrastructure during the recession. I was pleased that after months of detailed negotiations, we were able to secure a City Deal for the Cardiff Capital Region – it will have a positive long term economic impact across the region. Yesterday’s City Deal has opened the door for other areas of Wales including the Swansea Bay Region’s bid and North Wales. We look forward to working with these regions to support their ambitions.
“We’ve always called for the abolition of the Severn Tolls – the Chancellor has half listened but should have gone further and abolished them. It is disappointing once again that there is nothing on the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon in this Budget.
“It is also disappointing that the UK Government has decided to continue its procrastination over the devolution of Air Passenger Duty. This discriminatory approach is unacceptable and unjustifiable and we will now look at ways of offsetting the impact of this tax on our national airport and our economy.”